Apparently Rebel has Kung Fu classes on Tuesmorns! How exciting is that! Unbelievably, is the answer. Oh, gosh, don’t get me started on how ridiculously excited I get about these things. While we were left to warm up, I started doing just a little capoeira to stretch my legs, and after confessing to not learning how to do the jinga, Kaneda gave me a quick lesson. It was so much fun. Did I mention it was fun? Oh, gosh, it’s just.. Yay! So we got into a good rhythm and then turned to face each other, advancing it to exchanging kicks. It was really really fun to, ahem, play around. I’ll definitely, definitely revisit it soon.
But the main lesson, and the more exciting part (if it’s even possible), was a session on drunken kung fu, because Kaneda was feeling a little groggy. It’s such a unique style, unorthodox if you will, based on deception, confusion and sometimes sheer terror. When someone’s falling on you and throwing punches and kicks at your face you don’t have time to do anything but move back and deflect their shots. Kaneda chased George (and myself) across the hall in seconds before we were cornered and he ploughed down on top of us. It’s all about playing with balance and moving your centre, your dan tien. As I came to understand it, it was like your belly became a large keg of beer- it sloshed and moved as you moved, but it was also reinforced with iron rims, an incredibly strong barrel from which power could come from rolling and twisting.
Drunken boxing is largely about controlled falling. Tipping forwards, backwards, left and right, but knowing exactly where your limit is, and either holding it, following it through, or recovering it. Although appearing uncontrolled, it’s actually perfectly controlled with so much unpredictability it creates unique openings. It’s also about taking hits as well as giving them. Kaneda (a hard puncher) hit a 60-year-old drunken boxer as hard as he could in the chest, but the man just took it and fell back in Kaneda’s face as if to say, "Huh? Did you tap me on the shoulder for some reason?", classic drunken style. It was very deflating for Kaneda but very impressive for the drunken boxer. At the end of class he was showing us some exercises, like tipping back as far as you can as if downing a drink, and holding it. Then rolling (or climbing) up and down from what I can only poorly describe as a spread kneeling position. Intense exercises which are hard on the lower back, but with training will be very very awesome. It’s a great style which I’d absolutely love to learn and get better at, but as I realised today, we did only the tip of the ice berg. It’s hard to imagine we were only doing basics, but I deeply wish to learn more about the secrets, philosophies and advanced techniques of the art. I’ll get there, and keep practicing meanwhile.
The exercises (just for my benefit) were jab low high punch, moving hands (down, down, left, right. To generate power, throw your body into it and twist from the centre so that your arm extends with your centre line. Use the forearms, not the fists), catching a punch while simultaneously kicking the attacker (really lean into it, and then fall onto them keeping your centre of gravity loose and low. Knee, twist with the shoulders, then kick!), and grab defence (raise the arm, punch through the opening, then twist the person. Works with cross or straight grab). Hit with the flat of the second finger and remember to roll the gourd (at waist height).
‘kay! Borderlands now!